The only person who took no interest in the “Traveller’s Joy " was Janet, who could not think how reasonable people could endure such nonsense. Her first affront had been taken at a most absurd description which Jock had illustrated by a fancy caricature of “The Fox and the Crow,” “Woman’s Progress,” in which “Mr. Hermann Dowsterswivel” was represented as haranguing by turns with her on the steamer, and, during her discourse, quietly secreting her bag. It was such wild fun that Lord Fordham never dreamt of its being an affront, nor perhaps would it have been, if Dr. Medlicott would have chopped logic, science, and philosophy with her in the way she thought her due from the only man who could be supposed to approach her in intellect. He however took to chaff. He would defend every popular error that she attacked, and with an acumen and ease that baffled her, even when she knew he was not in earnest, and made her feel like Thor, when the giant affected to take three blows with Miolner for three flaps of a rat’s tail.
The magazine contained a series of notes on the nursery rhymes, where the “Song of Sixpence” was proved to be a solar myth. The pocketful of rye was the yield of the earth, and the twenty-four blackbirds sang at sunrise while the king counted out the golden drops of the rain, and the queen ate the produce while the maid’s performance in the garden was, beyond all doubt, symbolic of the clouds suddenly broken in upon by the lightning!
Moreover the man of Thessaly was beautifully illustrated, blinding himself by jumping into the prickly bush of science, where each gooseberry was labelled with some pseudo study. When he saw his eyes were out, he stood wondrously gazing after them with his sockets while they returned a ludicrous stare from the points of thorns, like lobsters. In his final leap deeper into truth, he scratched them in again, and walked off, in a crown of laurels, triumphant.
Janet was none the less disposed to leap into her special gooseberry-bush; and her importunity prevailed, so that before Dr. Medlicott returned to England he escorted her and her mother to Zurich. Then after full inquiries it was decided that she should have her will, and follow out her medical course of study, provided she could find a satisfactory person to board with.
She proposed, and her mother consented, that the two Miss Rays should be her chaperons, of course with liberal payment. Nita could carry on her studies in art, and made the plan agreeable to Janet, while old Miss Ray’s eyes, which had begun to suffer from the copying, would have a rest, and Mrs. Brownlow had as much confidence in her as in any one Janet would endure.
CHAPTER XXV. THE LAND OF AFTERNOON.
And all at once they sang, “Our island home
Is far beyond the wave, we will no longer roam.”